CONTROVERSIAL changes to social housing being brought in by New Forest District Council (NFDC) have been branded “draconian” by a charity.

New rules proposed by the council, aimed at easing the housing shortage, mean residents will no longer have the long-term security offered to those currently housed by the council.

Under new regulations, five-year fixed tenancies will be offered and tenants living in the wrong type of property, who can afford private|sector accommodation, or who repeatedly breach tenancy con-ditions, will not have tenancies renewed.

The strategy will come into force next year, but only for new tenants.

Exceptions to the rule include householders over the age of 65 in the New Forest or people with|certain disabilities, who will continue to have lifetime tenancies.

John Moreton, deputy director of Age Concern Hampshire, welcomed measures to protect over-65s and against antisocial behaviour, but was concerned about “insecurity for people approaching older age”.

“It could be disastrous for people to be moved out of a property they may have lived for the whole of their family life,” he said.

“That’s too draconian in my view – while we sympathise with the|problem, the solution is too drastic.”

Housing charity Shelter said things were heading towards a situation where only homeowners can put down roots long-term.

Kay Boycott, director of policy and communications at Shelter, said: “Increasingly, hard-working families will face a future in insecure, un-affordable private rented housing and with a wholly inadequate safety net should they hit difficulties.”

New Forest District Council said there is a shortage of affordable housing and the five years will strike the right balance between security for tenants and the best use of housing stock.

It said elderly or vulnerable tenants will be protected and, in most cases, have the certainty of a long-term home.